She earned her reputation as a moderate Republican who focused on family issues and welfare reform. No New Jersey woman has served in Congress since Roukema’s departure from the House in 2003.
Roukema’s first job in public service was as a member and later president of the Board of Education in the Ridgewood School District. In 1977, she was the first woman elected as president of the Ridgewood Republican Club. Elected in 1981, as a member of the House Roukema worked on the Committee on Education and Labor as well as the Committee on Banking, Finance, and Urban Affairs. She eventually rose to chair both the Housing and Community Opportunity subcommittee and the Financial Institutions and Consumer Credit subcommittee. Roukema also worked on the Education Reform and the Employer-Employee Relations subcommittees of Education and Workforce.
Roukema’s largest political victory occurred with the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993. The Act required large companies to extend unpaid leave time to new parents, those caring for chronically ill relatives, and disabled workers. Roukema also made her mark as a Republican who was willing to vote with Democrats on various social issues like abortion rights and gun control.
United States, Cass Ballenger, Steve Bartlett, Earl Thomas Coleman, William Franklin Goodling, Steve Gunderson, Augustus Freeman Hawkins, and Margaret Scafati Roukema. 1988. Student default initiative act of 1988. August 4, 1988. — Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and ordered to be printed. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/1051636400
National Organization for Women. 1972. New directions for women in New Jersey. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/934171868
Questions to Explore
What did Roukema represent to other republicans and Democrats, when she was willing to vote with democrats on various social issues as a republican? Did this help the rift between democrats and republicans?
How did Roukema Aquire her biggest win with the enactment of the Family and Medical Leave Act in 1993?
What are some things Roukema did to improve education and labor issues?
O’Dea Suzanne Ann Waugh Richards and Susan M Collins. 2006. From Suffrage to the Senate : America’s Political Women : An Encyclopedia of Leaders Causes & Issues. Millerton NY: Grey House Pub. https://www.worldcat.org/title/667822723
Tomlinson Barbara J. 1996. “Making Their Way : A Study of New Jersey Congresswomen 1924-1994.” Dissertation. Rutgers University. . https://www.worldcat.org/title/35684601
United States Steve Bartlett Douglas Kent Bereuter David Timothy Dreier George Vernon Hansen James Albert Smith Leach Ira William McCollum Stewart Brett McKinney Stephen Lybrook Neal and Stanford E Parris. 1983. International Recovery and Financial Stability Act. May 16 1983. — Committed to the Committee of the Whole House on the State of the Union and Ordered to Be Printed. https://www.worldcat.org/title/1051655841